It’s 19.00 on a sunny Tuesday. A group of people is gathering at Plein 1992 in front of the restaurant Beluga. These are the participants in the first guided jogging tour for the international community in Maastricht, organised by Maastricht Running Tours and the Knowledge Centre for International Staff (KCIS). For €10 they will jog for about an hour while hearing all about Maastricht’s hot-spots.
“I read a column by Markus Tozman in Observant, who wrote about how sports help people to integrate and get together”, says Raoul Spronken, owner of Maastricht Running Tours and controller at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences. “That gave me an idea. The KCIS already organises informal drinks and get-togethers for international staff members, so why not give them a chance to meet each other in a sporting context?”
Joao Gomis, who works at Ericsson, was immediately interested. “I’ve been living in Maastricht for almost five years now, so I know the city, but I’ve never had a guided tour.” He jogs regularly, as does Martti Torkko, an exchange student in medicine from Finland. “My roommate asked me to come along. It should be easy for me. At least, I hope they don’t run too fast.” So does Machteld Marceli, who works at the Psychiatry department. “This past year I haven’t run as much as I used to. Still, there will be a few stops, so I should be ok.”
And then they’re off over the Hoge Brug, towards the Stadspark. Spronken hopes the group will continue to meet. “This is just a way to get things started.” There might be more guided jogging tours in the future, too: “We’ll have to evaluate this one first, but we could do a few per year.”